safranbolu songs

 
 

safranbolu

the old ottoman town safranbolu

In the part of the world I have now reached, tourism no longer means Backpackistan: Safranbolu is the territory of large touringcars, Koreans with elaborate cameras, unwinding pensioners, and European families on exotic summer holidays (as it happens, that’s how I came to Turkey the first time, when I was fifteen). The upside: almost-decent espresso. Which was very welcome during the hours the electricity was cut, eliminating one of the reasons I stayed a full day instead of just making this an overnight stop on my way to New Musical Adventures in Istanbul: updating my blog and catching up with audio and video editing before collecting new material. So instead, I sat in a café reading my book and walked around in this beautiful Ottoman town.

alarm

bike with newly installed alarm system

The place is filled with small shops selling all kinds of handicrafts, from textile to metalworks. I used the opportunity to finally invest in an alarm system for my bike – just in time, as I’m heading to Europe. Suggested by the ever-resourceful Benno Graas, I now have a beautiful little bell to hang from an unseen place on the bike at night, whose glassy tinkle will no doubt wake me up should someone with dishonourable intentions come near the bike.

stall

bells, kettles, and other metalworks

music meeting

robbert van hulzen (drums, left) & ali yapıcı (bağlama) (photo by soonjung lee)

The evening brought a pleasant surprise: Ali Yapıcı not only runs the charming Bastoncu Pansiyon (in a beautiful old Ottoman house, all old wood and roughly hewn stone and off-white plaster), he also has a powerful voice and plays the bağlama, a lute-type instrument with three sets of strings played with a soft plastic pick. The strings are tuned to the tonic, fourth, and fifth, and the frets create a scale that has pleasantly little to do with that western totalitarian system, equal temperament. I unpacked a small selection of my drums, and, cheered on by other hotel guests, we enjoyed an hour playing of Turkish folk songs.

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